Tuesday, May 18, 2021 by Joel Gross

Our decisions shape the community

I previously described elections as a “high-stakes civic intersection between information and action” – in other words, right in the Austin Monitor’s wheelhouse. When it comes to turnout, this recent special election had numerous factors stacked against it: mid-year (not November), off-year (not coinciding with a major federal election) and non-presidential (not voting for presidential candidates). 

But Austinites turned out in much higher numbers than expected, and to the tune of 20 percent. Our Voter Resource, covering the eight propositions on the ballot, became one of our most viewed pages, ever. We see both of these outcomes as good signs for the civic health of our community, and they also don’t surprise us. 

It only takes a quick online search to validate what we already know: Austin is becoming one of the most desirable cities in the country. To be sure, this recognition brings excitement, but it also raises big questions and important issues that will deeply influence our future.  

Elections are powerful tools that allow us to weigh in directly on important matters, but decisions take place outside of the polls as well. Information you receive, conversations around you, opportunities for involvement, and numerous other community features play just as critical a role as elections in determining the direction of our city. 

When you pair this reality with a technological climate that both connects us and gives us more information than ever before, you begin to understand how much we depend on each other to shape our community. Never before has our community prosperity been so tied to our collective ability to address and overcome shared challenges.  

Whether you have lived here for five days or 50 years, it’s easy to feel the vibrant and special energy that both defines our city and propels it forward. Austinities care deeply about the community, and in many ways, this community attachment has likely contributed to the city’s strong economic development. 

We cannot predict the future, but we do know it will be an extension of us and the decisions we make. You are already playing a leading role, and the Monitor will be here for you, providing trusted and local nonpartisan news and resources and continuing to bring more Austinites into the major issues and decisions that are shaping our community. 

Joel Gross is the CEO of the Austin Monitor. A graduate of UT Austin, he was previously senior director of programs at It’s Time Texas.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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